Drug Policy

American Violet

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The movie American Violet opens next month, and is based on the real-life experience of Regina Kelly, a waitress wrongly arrested and charged during a disastrous drug sweep in Hearne, Texas back in 2000. Kelly was one of 28 people arrested. Her refusal to accept a plea bargain eventually helped expose that District Attorney John Paschall case for the massive sweep was a sham, based almost entirely on the word of a pathological informant (who also claims he was beaten by police). Paschall promised his informant he'd drop the theft charges pending against him if the informant could produce information that would lead to 20 drug arrests.

Even after his case fell apart and Paschall had no choice to drop the charges against those who hadn't alread plead guilty, he refused to exonerate anyone, telling the New York Times that of those charged, "I don't doubt one minute their guilt in dealing drugs." Paschall is still district attorney, and he's not particularly happy about the movie. He told the Dallas Morning News, "The only way I'd watch it, I'd have to be handcuffed, tied to a chair and you'd have to tape my eyes open."

Like the series of wrongful drug arrests in Tulia, Texas, the Hearne scandal was largely attributable to the federal Byrne Grant program, which not only creates the unaccountable, multi-jurisdictional drug task forces like those responsible for Hearne and Tulia, but then also sets artificial, improper incentives by tying future funding to the number of arrests and drug seizures a task force makes. Oddly enough, the Bush administration actually phased out Byrne Grants. Obama and the Democrats in Congress are bringing them back.

I interviewed Regina Kelly a couple of years ago at an ACLU conference:

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  1. He told the Dallas Morning News, “The only way I’d watch it, I’d have to be handcuffed, tied to a chair and you’d have to tape my eyes open.”

    Glad he’s open-minded about the topic.

  2. This movie looks fucking great. Maybe it might open a few peoples eyes to the injustice that takes place everyday in this country.

  3. I’d have to be handcuffed, tied to a chair and you’d have to tape my eyes open

    …which, ironically, is how they got their “informant” to make up the charges in the first place.

  4. “The only way I’d watch it, I’d have to be handcuffed, tied to a chair and you’d have to tape my eyes open.”

    Kinky. Is that legal in Texas?

  5. “The only way I’d watch it, I’d have to be handcuffed, tied to a chair and you’d have to tape my eyes open.”

    They should play some Beethoven while he’s there, too.

  6. I watched a little program on Alabama pubic tv recently about the Thulia cases. In cases like that, it should be legal for the victims to kill the undercover guy and the sheriff by whatever means they find the most satisfying.

  7. “Oddly enough, the Bush administration actually phased out Byrne Grants. Obama and the Democrats in Congress are bringing them back”

    Part of the stimulus program to help working families by creating or saving 40 million jobs, no doubt.

  8. Several years ago, this county was part of a drug task force. Turned out, after years of investigation, one of the biggest drug dealers (and certainly one of the biggest users) was the head of the task force.

  9. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the movie. I can tell from the trailer tho that it will upset the Wife. Hell, the trailer bothered me.

  10. “The only way I’d watch it, I’d have to be handcuffed, tied to a chair and you’d have to tape my eyes open.”
    ___________________________________________
    stand the truth he can’t
    I say toothpick his eyes open and make him watch it!

  11. Even after his case fell apart and Paschall had no choice to drop the charges against those who hadn’t alread plead guilty, he refused to exonerate anyone, telling the New York Times that of those charged, “I don’t doubt one minute their guilt in dealing drugs.” Paschall is still district attorney

    Kinda makes you proud, don’t it?

  12. This kind of thing can lead to race riots. LA didn’t explode just because of Rodney King, they went berzerk because of decades of abuse.

    -jcr

  13. Man, that trailer was moving.
    I hope this movie opens some eyes.

    I can’t believe this gets 12 comments, and the chick that boned the dog gets 73.

  14. Obama’s bringing back mass round-ups of black people? Fucking fool.

  15. I can’t believe this gets 12 comments, and the chick that boned the dog gets 73.

    We all basically agree on this one, whereas we can go different ways on the legality and ethics of getting fluffed by a dog.

    That might account for the discrepancy.

  16. Thanks again, Radley

    Now I have more ammo to discharge at my soft-bigot friends.

    I live in Texas and it is a constant struggle with an innate so to speak bigotry complicit with an ardent racist militancy that has made me redefine exactly where I live.

    Don’t get me wrong. I previously thought Texas-bashing to be undeserved. That holds for my immediate surroundings but when you throw in that of my work colleagues, I understand the caricaturization of Texans as much as that practice is anti-libertarian.

  17. Interesting how the still frame from the movie made it look like the actress was laughing.

  18. “He’s part of some inter-agency multi-jurisdictional task force – I don’t where he is or what he’s doing. Its a real pain in the ass…”

    – Mario Andretti Freedman

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